Firsts

Last week, I had one of the coolest “firsts” ever: the first novel in my first trilogy (which is also my first-ever sold novel) was sent by my editor to copyedits, with no major editorial changes left to be made. Wooot! And: whew! And also: OH MY GOD. When my editor emailed me with the news, I went a little shaky inside (even shakier than I am in general right now, with my 4-month-old going through a bad night-time sleep pattern). It’s going to be a real book!

I guess that shouldn’t sound so surprising. I sold it last August, after all – I’ve had 5 months to get used to the idea. But during that time, an awful lot has happened. I had my first baby (the very best “first” ever!), and found a lot of other firsts all ganging up on me at once. (Some blissful, some terrifying, and some that were actually both.) I took an official, 2-month maternity leave from writing, agreed with my agent and editor, in the wake of my son’s difficult birth. And, because of the nature of publishing, there was just a long time when nothing seemed to be happening with the book, from my perspective. There were plenty of days when I actually wondered whether I’d just imagined the whole thing. I would tell people I met that I was a professional author, with a trilogy due to come out in the next few years, but the words felt tinny and unconvincing to myself. Really? I’d wonder. Irrationally but scarily, I was half-convinced that something would happen to come in the way – that what I was saying couldn’t actually be true…

Having Kat by Moonlight sent to copyedits makes the whole thing feel real after all…real, imminent, and also (something I never would have imagined in my years of submissions and hope) actually startlingly scary. There’s so much for me to do before it’s published, and I haven’t done any of it! I have to reconceptualize my whole website! I have to figure out my dedication! And my acknowledgements! And find an author photo, and oh, God, how am I supposed to have a professional author photo taken when I’m 4-months post-pregnant and still haven’t lost all the baby weight and, and, and…!

Yeah, I know. The new panicky fears are no more rational than the old ones. It’s amazing how quick they are to cluster around, though. What is it about finally getting my novels published – what I’ve wanted, quite seriously, for over 24 years now – that inspires such terror in me? I guess maybe it comes down to the very public nature of it. Finally, everyone is going to see my novels in print, just like I always wanted…and what if they hate them? What if (in my worst, middle-school-style paranoia) everyone laughs? (In a bad way, that is. The novels are actually supposed to be funny. But…)

Today, I’m making a resolution. Yeah, there is a lot still to do before my first novel is published. But guess what? That’s over a year away. So today, I’m not going to indulge in any panic. I’m not going to let myself run around in mental circles. Instead, I’m going to take today just to savor that knowledge: my first novel is going to be published.

That might be scary, but it’s also awesome.

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There are 7 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. Joe Iriarte

    How exciting! Congratulations, and good luck keeping the panic at bay! :)

  2. 2. Adam Heine

    Congratulations, Stephanie. I’m still hoping to reach where you’ve gotten. The only pseudo-encouraging things I can think to say are: (1) you already have a lot of people who think your book is good – including your agent, your editor, and the tens or hundreds of people the editor has convinced to get the book published, and these folks know what they’re talking about; and (2) you can’t please everyone, and there will be folks that don’t like it, but don’t listen to them (except what you can glean to improve your craft, of course – what I mean is don’t let them get into your head).

  3. 3. Joe Lewis

    Congratulations on the new baby! It seems like 2008 was a big year for babies. And don’t worry when he starts smacking his head on everything despite your baby-proofing efforts. That’s normal. Just try to ignore the thumping and the crying and get cracking on the rest of that trilogy. Oh, and congratulations on getting published!

  4. 4. S. M. Payne

    You go, girl! I’m happy for you and I know you’ll do a good job. :)

  5. 5. Liane Merciel

    Oh, man. I was so happy to read this post because I’m going through something very similar right now (first novel just sold, but revisions not done yet), and it is such a relief to know that I am not completely crazy with the whole irrational fear thing. Or, if crazy, at least not uniquely so.

    It is indeed terrifying and awesome. Congratulations! I look forward to seeing your books on the shelves.

  6. 6. Stephanie Burgis

    Thanks everybody! I really appreciate the good wishes and encouragement.

  7. 7. Stephanie Burgis

    Liane, I am SO there with you! Good luck overcoming those irrational fears!

    And Joe, good to hear that baby head-bumping warning…our house is sooooo not baby-proofed yet. Aagh!

Author Information

Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie Burgis is an American writer who lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, their son "Mr Darcy", and their crazy-sweet border collie mix, Maya. Her Regency fantasy trilogy for kids, The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, will be published by Atheneum Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in 2010, 2011, and 2012, beginning with Book One: A Most Improper Magick. She has also published short stories in a variety of magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. You can find out more, or read/listen to her published stories online, at her website. Visit site.

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